Kindle Paperwhite Review – The ultimate travel e-reader

Continuing with the Travel Gear series, this is my review of the Kindle Paperwhite.

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite Review

My first e-book device was a Kobo, which turned me into an e-reader convert straight away. While I liked the size and weight of the Kobo, I found that there were books that weren’t in the Kobo store that were in Amazon. A few times I had the proverbial credit card in hand, ready to buy, only to have the book not available in-store. The other downside was the one week battery life. While that is not bad compared to a smartphone, I often found myself forgetting to charge and being without a book.

Enter Kindle Paperwhite

I was satisfied with my old book reader until I read about the Kindle Paperwhite. Like the original Kindle, the Paperwhite has e-ink display which simulates reading like from paper, so you can read outdoors. What sold me though was the unique front-lit feature that points light to the screen, so you can read in the dark. This is in contrast to back-lit tablets which are a strain on the eyes, especially at night. It’s amazing to look at in the dark, sort of like a glow in the dark book that doesn’t hut your eyeballs.

I tested this out on my first road trip after purchase when I was on a 12 hour overnight bus in Guatemala. There were no personal lights on the bus but I was able to read at ease, without needing an additional lamp. And no eye-fatigue.

Another selling point for me is the eight week battery life. I haven’t tested this out yet, but I have gone a month without recharging and the battery was around the halfway mark, so no complaints there. I regularly connect my e-reader into my laptop to get new content, so it would be a rare occasion if my book ever ran out of battery.


I like taking notes on books. I have old exercise books with notes from previous reads, so having a function where I can highlight text and make notes is an important feature for me.

3G or WIFI

The Paperwhite comes in 3G or wifi edition. With 3G you can download books anywhere in the world for free over the 3G network, even without wifi. I opted for the wifi only version as it is rare that I would go days without wifi, and if I was I still wouldn’t get through all the books I currently have loaded on my device.


Turning pages is a simple process with a tap or swipe motion on the screen. I bought the official Paperwhite book case as well, which fits snugly around the reader and closes with a magnetic strip. The book goes to sleep when the case is closed and starts automatically upon opening so there is no annoying boot-up time.


The Paperwhite is slightly heavier than the basic Kindle, but still about the same weight as normal book.

e-reader vs iPad/tablet

As I am travelling full time I need to be selective about what gadgets I carry. If I had a homebase I would probably get an iPad as it is a good device to read online magazine content (of which I read a lot). As it stands I am travelling with a Macbook Air, so having another computer in my limited carry-on space would be overkill.

One of the selling points of buying an e-reader over getting an iPad/tablet is the screen. As I am staring into a computer screen all day, the last thing I need is to be staring into another computer screen at night when I am reading books.

With e-readers the screen appears as if it is paper, so it is not backlit and it can be read outdoors, if reading on the beach is your thing.

Kindle Paperwhite
[Kindle Paperwhite – easy to read outdoors]

Once you go e-reader, you never go back…

…or something like that. That’s what I am saying anyway. Having the convenience of hundreds of books in my bag, and being able to instantly buy a book anywhere in the world has made this my reading device of choice.

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  1. I’ve been cruising a lot of travel sites lately, and I stumbled across this one with one of my favorite things at the beginning: the Kindle!

    I’ve been using a Kindle Keyboard for a couple years now, and it’s one of my favorite things ever. But I’ve been wondering about the Paperwhite. I’ve seen mixed reviews on it. I really appreciate this review, and it may have swayed me toward picking this one up and handing my old Kindle off to a friend. It’s a 3G version, and I agree with what you had to say about 3G… It’s a cool feature but not really necessary. It also noticeably adds to the weight of the device.

    Thanks a lot for the review!

  2. Preston McGee says

    Kindle was pitted against all other tablets in the market. I personally like this gadget because it is more business like and allows you save to more eBooks and information.

  3. Hey I didn’t know that difference between the screen of an e-reader and other devices. That’s good to know, it seems like a really nice feature if you want to keep away from those backlit things from time to time

  4. Wairimu Ndirangu says

    Thank you for this detailed and invaluable information about the paperwhite version of the kindle. I greatly appreciate this…

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